Sunday, April 28, 2013

While I was 23...

While I was 23 years old, my life changed in ways I never imagined possible. I have learned more about myself in the past 365 days than I have in the rest of my days combined. Seriously monumental self growth and discovery!

Reflecting back on my 23rd year brought to me some favorites: favorite moments, favorite things, and favorite songs. Here's what I've come up with (in no particular order):


  1. Swearing in as a Peace Corps Volunteer
  2. First night sleeping in my new home
  3. Running a 5K with other Peace Corps Volunteers in Shakawe
  4. Watching "Now & Then" with Dom, Kelly & Jvani while drinking homemade sangria
  5. Receiving a bracelet with my name woven into it
  1. Wearing a traditional Tswana dress to my aunt's wedding
  1. Kissing Michael at the top of the Eiffel Tower
  1. Hugging my parents for the first time in ten months
  1. Toasting to one year of service and celebrating in the Tuli Block with my Bots 12 training group
  1. My cat surviving his terrible illness
  1. Watching baby Ayanda take her first steps and learn to say my name, Boitshepo
  1. Taking my first bucket bath
  1. Vacation in northern Botswana: Game drive to see all the best African animals, Victoria Falls, mokoro ride in the Okavango Delta
  1. Listening to hippos grunting and crickets chirping at night along the Okavango river
  2. Laying beneath the African night sky, watching shooting stars
  3. Singing along to "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show with other Peace Corps Volunteers
  4. Visiting patients in the village for home based care
  5. Weighing babies in the child welfare clinic
  1. Watching children diligently color the wall for the world map project
  1. Jumping around with the kids in the rain that FINALLY came to Kang, singing "Pula, pula, go disa!"
  1. Evening walks with my family
  1. Living with my host family in Kanye for two months and learning about Tswana culture
  2. Exploring Tsodillo hills


  1. Skype- thank goodness for staying in touch!
  1. Coffee mug- homemade by Jan's son
  1. Kibi cat- my furry lil' companion
  1. Paraffin lamp- light!
  1. Be mobile modem- how I connect to the internet
  1. The story/my bible- impossible for me to survive without them!
  1. Nike + - great for rural runs
  1. Incense holder- part of my zen zone
  1. Journal- contains all my sweetest memories of service
  1. Fan- enough said. I live in a desert.
  1. Ice pops- see above.
  1. Big sunglasses- fun and necessary!
  1. Nook- saves me from boredom
  1. Snail mail/stamps- cheers me up on my down days
  1. Camera-captures all the memories I'll cherish for the rest of my life
  1. Electric strip- my life line at my house for my fridge & computer (still no electricity in my house)
  1. Tan line on my feet- my feet are DARK. I walk a lot.
  1. Healthy nails-my nails are super healthy here for some reason. No more biting them!
  1. Head bands/bandanas- stylish ways to disguise the oily mess of hair.
  1. Umbrella- sun protection/life saving
  1. Recipe cards-adorable ways to save new dishes
  2. Head lamp-my side kick
  1. Dr. Seuss Quote: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” 


  1. Beautiful Things  by Gunger
  1. I Will Follow You by Chris Tomlin
  1. 3 a.m. by Gregory Alan Isakov
  2. The Atlas by Kristin Allen Zito
  1. Cats & Dogs by The Head and the Heart
  1. Not With Haste by Mumford & Sons
  2. Better People by Xavier Rudd
  1. I'm Not Who I Was by Brandon Heath
  1. Heart of Life by John Mayer
  2. No Envy, No Fear by Joshua Radin
  1. Little Bitty Pretty Thing by Thurston Harris
  1. Via Orlando Remake by DJ Vetkuk vs Mahoota feat. Dr. Maling
  2. Wildflowers by Tom Petty
  3. Breathe by Alexi Murdoch
  4. All This Time by Britt Nicole
  5. Asleep on a Train by Radical Face
  6. Adventures in Solitude by The New Pornographers
  7. Why Can't We by Asa
  8. Just Breathe  by Pearl Jam
  9. Just One by Blind Pilot
  1. Beautiful Onyinye by P-Square
  1. All My Days by Alexi Murdoch
  1. Lie Low by Plumb

23 was remarkable & I'm so thankful to spend my 24th year in Botswana too. Looking forward to all I will learn and experience!

Love & Light,

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Bigger You Make Your World

 Laying under the stars makes my problems melt away .

When I gaze up at the dark night sky, I can feel my insignificance.

I notice what a small role I play in the world.

I find anger in my heart about the bigger problems in the world that seem so unfair.

I realize that the world is enormous and millions of people on the other side of the world are starting their day.

I stop to wonder about why we're all here.

I wonder about who else looks up at the stars and who has never had the chance to be captivated by their beauty.

I smile about being able to live my life, just the way I want to.

I remember that I'm not alone.

And each and every time,  I'm left with peace.

"The bigger you make your world,
The smaller your problems become."

Thank you, universe.

Love & Light,

Monday, April 22, 2013

All the Little Things

I have this goal for myself… however silly it may be… I'm determined to stick to it. I want to post at least 4 blog posts each month. Doesn't sound like much - but I spend a lot of time trying to think of what to write about.  I've been traveling so much this month, I feel like I haven't quite caught up with everything now that I'm back. SO- I've decided to update you with all the little things. Mundane? Yes. But that's what I feel like sharing today.

All the Little Things (from April)

I am getting over a cold, which means I'm still at the point where I can't really taste my food.

The weather is changing (finally). I'm no longer sleeping with frozen water bottles… I'm sleeping with long underwear and several blankets.

I'm getting really excited about the upcoming three months and all the wonderful events I have planned for my community. Update on projects coming soon….

There was an INSANELY violent hail storm in my village. It scared the village children to tears and the adults referred to it as "African snow."

I spend ridiculous amounts of time day-dreaming about the food I want when I come home in August (p.s. for those of you that don't know, I'm obviously coming home in August. p.p.s. those of you at home should advise me NOT to eat all the food I want)

I'm OBSESSED with my new slippers. They're seriously adorable. And I don't care if they are falling apart, they will make the trek back to America  with me when I come home.

I'm still the same girl who jumps into 1,000,000 things at once. I'm pleased to announce I am now the Serving Volunteer Advisory Council's Senior Advisor for Projects! They work with the National Peace Corps Association. I will be working to develop a new database for volunteer projects. SO excited!

I drink about 5 cups of coffee/tea  throughout the day & it's a welcome relief not to be sweating while drinking (thank you winter weather…)

I cried a little bit inside when I finished my stash of pistachios. I tried to make them last as long as possible… nom nom.

I'm learning to like the mornings again. And no, it doesn't come naturally. I'm forcing it, but I'm excited about welcoming mornings back into my life. (let's be real as well - I'm always at work at 7:30, so mornings = realllllly early.)

Lentils have become a favorite staple food. I should be sick of them by now, but I eat them ALL the time. The same applies to oatmeal.

I feel like a 12 year old girl, but I play the same few songs on repeat OVER & OVER again, singing at the top of my lungs while doing my laundry. How long ago was it when you did that? TRY IT.

I have officially stopped biting my nails. Go me.

I ordered new glasses last week because it turns out I'm losing vision :o) reading for hours on end by candlelight might not be the best thing I've done for my eyes…

I'm journaling every day again. Thank goodness.

My African kitty cat is putting on weight and seems quite happy. He's also developed a horrible habit of sitting on whatever I'm working on (computer, reading, journal, etc.)

Washing my hair gives me brain freezes again. I forgot it got this cold in the desert.

I'm happy. REALLY, truly happy. I look back on my life and find myself smiling. I really am living out my dreams. And even better, I'm continuing to work towards my next goal. I'm so blessed.

Love & Light,

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

There is so much yet to come

I remember crying in my room at my mom's house whenever I'd glance over at the world map. Botswana is a LONG way away from home.

I remember frantically packing my bags the weekend before I left for Botswana & worrying about my dad who was just released from the ICU.

I remember the anxiety and anticipation I had when I first boarded the plane for Botswana.

I remember the hugs I received from every member of my host family in Kanye, who welcomed me into their home and hearts.

I remember the frustration of trying to learn a new language, Setswana, and later, the frustration of trying to learn a different dialect, Sekgalagadi.

I remember enjoying the company of each member of my training class and all the memories we made during our first year of service.

I remember the excitement of FINALLY knowing where I would spend my two years in Peace Corps… Kang, Botswana.

I remember the first night sleeping alone in my house in Kang, without electricity, without knowing a soul in my village.

I remember wondering how I could ever survive two years in the desert village I finally ended up in.

I remember my first few months at site, trying to figure out my role within the village and how I could help people the most. 

I remember thinking this was too hard, what had I gotten myself into, I didn't have the skills, patience, or ability to do this. 

I remember falling in love with my new family in Kang and forming relationships that will last a lifetime.

I remember the joy of working with youth development.

I remember the children who ran alongside me as I made my way running through the village at sundown.

I remember the unremarkable kindness of strangers.

I remember the first time thinking, "This is my home. This is really where I belong."

I remember walking through my village with the sound of my Setswana name, Boitshepo, echoing through the air.

I remember falling in love with who I am, with who I am becoming, and with where I am in life.

I remember thinking I still have so much to learn, so much to do, and so much more to accomplish.

I remember coming home to children running up to me for hugs & kisses.

I remember the happiness I felt when people came knocking on my office door to seek me out for help, rather than me offering first.

I remember finally feeling like something was getting done.

I remember the first time I felt "homesick" for my home in Botswana, rather than the United States.

I remember my sisters meeting me at the bus stop each and every time I returned to my village (whether I was gone a day or two weeks.. It didn't matter. They were there.)

I remember the smiles from people I've helped along the way, thanking me for my time and investment in their future.

I remember realizing for the first time, there are many things I think I cannot do that I actually can do.

I remember people rejoicing to be transferred out of my village to a government job in a bigger city - leaving without looking back.

I remember thinking I couldn't leave. If I leave, who will stay? I thought.

I remember holding hands with home based care patients when I went to visit them in their homes… most often, finding them on a small foam mattress pad on the ground, clinging to what life they have left in their bodies, and somehow, still smiling at me each time I came to visit.

I remember attending funerals of people I came to love in my village, all of whom died from HIV and opportunistic diseases.

I remember feeling part of something bigger.

I remember hitting my ONE YEAR mark in Botswana and thinking there is so much yet to come.

Love & Light,

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Become Your Own Friend

Each one of us is guilty of being too hard on ourselves. We think, "I am not good enough. I could have done better. I need to try harder."  We push ourselves to the point of exhaustion and wonder why we still don't measure up to our own standards. Sound familiar?

I catch myself in this mind frame more often than not… but why? I could certainly point my finger in a half dozen directions, finding reasons to support this crazy kind of behavior. But alas, that's not going to do me any good either.

If you ask me, simply being aware of the stress I put upon myself is a step in the right direction.  I stopped myself several times today forgiving others for showing up hours late to a meeting, for not finishing the tasks they promised to complete, for making excuses… forgiving them for things I would never do myself. But as I continued my day, I was extremely critical of my own shortcomings and imperfections. Is that fair?

Nope. So here is my conscious effort to start to treat myself with as much compassion and patience as I offer to others. Here's to hoping I stop trying to measure up to becoming the perfect Peace Corps Volunteer, the perfect medical school applicant,  or the perfect friend. Perfection is unattainable. All that I am is all that I can be… and it's more than enough. It has to be.

Can you give yourself a little more love & credit for all the amazing things you do? I think you should. There's so much more to you than you'll ever be able to see in your own reflection.

Become your own friend. Be patient, be kind,  and be forgiving with yourself. I promise you won't regret it.

"Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Love & Light,